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Atrium Health first to administer COVID-19 vaccine in North Carolina

Atrium Health announced Monday it was the first health system in North Carolina to administer an FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer. The health system has developed comprehensive plans to safely and effectively distribute the vaccine, as vaccination is the best way to prevent infection from COVID-19, according to Atrium.

“Today, my spirit is certainly lifted with the vaccine arriving and December 14 will be a historic day I will remember for the rest of my life,” said Eugene A. Woods, president and CEO of Atrium Health. “This has been a year that has tested all of us, and after fighting in the trenches 24/7, I am so happy that the cavalry is finally starting to arrive. Teams have been working around the clock at Atrium Health to prepare for vaccine distribution, and while we still have some months of heavy lifting, our frontline heroes have started to get the protection they deserve as we continue to provide health, hope and healing to each community we are privileged to serve.”

Pfizer reports its vaccine is 95 percent effective in preventing COVID-19 among people who had no evidence of prior infection. Due to limited initial supply and based on national and state guidance, the first batch of the Pfizer vaccine is being given to Atrium Health teammates in high priority, patient-facing areas such as the emergency department and medical intensive care unit, and areas where healthcare workers are at a higher risk for COVID-19 exposure.

Dr. Katie Passaretti, medical director of Infection Prevention at Atrium Health, was the first to receive the vaccine in North Carolina Monday.

“This is a moment of hope as this vaccine has the potential to change the course of where we are with the pandemic,” said Passaretti. “I couldn’t be more excited. I feel perfectly fine and I haven’t had any issues or complications with the vaccine. I would highly encourage everyone to talk with your doctor and consider getting vaccinated when it is available for you.”

Although the health system has started a new and very hopeful phase of combatting this virus by administering a vaccine for COVID-19, it remains critical for everyone to continue practicing COVID-Safe behaviors such as wearing a mask, social-distancing and handwashing, before and after having been vaccinated.

To date, Atrium Health has conducted 10 clinical trials to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

Atrium Health also opened a voluntary vaccine research registry, which allows people to learn more about vaccine research and development. People who take part in the registry may be invited to participate in COVID-19 vaccine trials in the future and will be provided with convenient access to trials should they be interested. Participating in clinical trials is a way for people to receive potentially life-saving medications before they become FDA available.